Members' Research Service By / July 12, 2023

Standards for equality bodies: Discrimination under Article 19 TFEU grounds [EU Legislation in Progress]

Equality and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, are among the values on which the European Union (EU) is based, as provided by Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union.

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Written by Ionel Zamfir (1st edition).

Several EU directives dealing with equality require EU Member States to establish equality bodies with a focus on assisting victims of discrimination and preventing and fighting discrimination on the grounds listed under the directives. However, their rules are too general and have no precise definition of these bodies’ duties and manner of operation, thus leading to disparities among the Member States’ bodies. Additionally, the work of some Member States’ bodies has been hampered by lack of resources, insufficient independence or a narrow remit.

In 2018, the European Commission adopted a recommendation on standards for equality bodies. Later, after assessing its implementation, it decided to shift to binding legislation. In a package of legislative measures on equality, in December 2022 it published a proposal setting standards for equality bodies fighting discrimination on several grounds. A second proposal, under the ordinary legislative procedure, focuses specifically on equality between men and women in the employment field. The proposal reinforces the equality bodies’ independence, resources and mandate. While generally welcoming the proposal, stakeholders have suggested specific changes to its provisions


Proposal for a Council directive on standards for equality bodies in the field of equal treatment between persons irrespective of their racial or ethnic origin, equal treatment in the field of employment and occupation between persons irrespective of their religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, equal treatment between women and men in matters of social security and in the access to and supply of goods and services, and deleting Article 13 of Directive 2000/43/EC and Article 12 of Directive 2004/113/EC
Committee responsible:Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM)COM(2022) 689
Rapporteur:Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, Finland)2022/0401(APP)
Shadow rapporteurs:Carina Ohlsson (S&D, Sweden)
Irène Tolleret (Renew, France)
Kira Marie Peter-Hansen (Greens/EFA, Denmark)
Eugenia Rodríguez Palop (The Left, Spain)
Consent procedure (APP)
(Unanimity in the Council,
consent in Parliament)
Next steps expected: Drafting of committee report

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